Book 8 Chapter 18: Jealousy

Xiao Xia clearly sensed Ruan Zhan had withdrawn once again.

While he had been heavily injured, she had felt him slowly accepting her. At least he hadn’t shunned her as much. He allowed her to remain by her side, allowed some ambiguity between them. She felt that with some patience, she could finally melt his icy heart.

After his trip to Jingshi Town, things took a drastic turn. Ruan Zhan once again put on his distant front. Anyone who tried to get close felt a hint of rejection. Xiao Xia believed something happened in Jingshi Town that caused Ruan Zhan to lock his heart up.

She no longer worried whether he was interested in her or not. She could tell through various signs that even if he didn’t obviously love her, he at least liked her deeply.

Liking someone was a premonition of love. Love was liking someone deeply.

What had caused him to halt his steps? This genteel-looking man’s nature was actually unyielding. It was hard to knock him down, so whatever obstacles he faced must be very great and hard to overcome.

But no matter the reason, Xiao Xia knew Ruan Zhan’s reclusive and withdrawn nature meant he wouldn’t speak about it. Therefore, she might as well not ask. She wanted to slowly dig out the answer but after several weeks of effort, she started getting angry.

Well, it was more like jealous!

Although she now lived in her own apartment, she hung out at the bar every day. She personally watched as Ruan Zhan purposefully maintained his distance from her while smiling warmly at other women. Although she could tell that behind the smile was ice without the slightest bit of warmth, she still had a hard time accepting it. She really had enough. Especially since he’d been chatting extra animatedly with a woman called Fu Xue recently.

That woman had recently started working in an office building nearby. She was so beautiful and fashionable it made Xiao Xia jealous. She felt like a bumpkin in comparison. She knew the one Ruan Zhan liked was herself and he was just being polite and sociable to that woman. However, she still felt the scene of them smiling faintly at each other exceptionally jarring.

She missed a step and Xiao Xia fell from the stairs. Luckily there were only a few steps left to the bottom, so the fall wasn’t bad. Perhaps she looked a little comical, so when she got back up in a fluster, the patrons of the bar all held smiles. Even Wan Li who rushed over to help her was smiling. “When will you fix that clumsy nature of yours!”

How embarrassing! Although this wasn’t during peak business hours, many people had seen her mishap. Especially since she had just eaten a face full of dirt in front of Fu Xue. Even worse, Bao Da Tong actually roared with laughter after confirming she wasn’t hurt. “Xiao Xia had too much to drink. She looks like a rabbit ushering in the new year.”

This caused everyone else to start laughing. Liu Tie and Ni Yang, those brats, laughed especially boisterously. Xiao Xia wanted nothing more than to kick them out. She had gone with Wan Li to a winery in the afternoon. Seeing Wan Li eagerly partake in the tasting, she couldn’t resist acting as a wine connoisseur for a bit too. Unfortunately, she didn’t expect her tolerance to be so bad. Her legs went limp after drinking just a bit. Wan Li wanted to send her home but she insisted on coming to the Nocturnal Revenant. Therefore, he could only bring her over but still had her sleep upstairs for a bit. Who would have thought she would perform a tumbling act the moment she came downstairs, entertaining the crowd.

Acting as if nothing had happened, Xiao Xia snuck a glance at Ruan Zhan. He was the only one in the bar who seemed not to have witnessed it. His head was lowered as he polished a glass. Having made such a ruckus, anyone would have noticed her as long as they weren’t deaf and blind. His show of ignorance was clearly over the top, making it even more obvious! His brows were also furrowed seemingly in distress.

Seeing the situation, she casually wandered over and asked him for a drink. She purposefully placed her slightly-swollen wrist which she had banged against a table in front of him. He remained silent, but didn’t give her any alcohol. Instead, he handed over a glass of orange juice.

Ignoring me? Fine, let’s see how long he can keep it up! Xiao Xia thought viciously. She wasn’t a patient person. She had hemmed and hawed over her feelings for him for a long time. In a time when love developed swiftly, hers was going the most traditional route. Since she understood he loved her, she no longer had to worry. She had been afraid to act in the past, afraid her impetuousness would cost even their friendship. She was afraid she wouldn’t be able to stay by his side. Now, it wasn’t just Ruan Zhan’s attitude that had changed regarding their relationship. Hers had as well. Now that she had confidence, she naturally became passionate.

Xiao Xia sat at the bar, ignoring Bao Da Tong and Wan Li as she quietly listened in on Ruan Zhan and Fu Xue’s conversation. With a third wheel like that, Fu Xue couldn’t flirt with the handsome owner in peace. Ruan Zhan was even less at ease. They kept shifting further away every now and then, but Xiao Xia tagged along after them wherever they moved. She kept her lightly injured wrist on the counter so Ruan Zhan could see it.

In the end, Fu Xue had shifted to the end of the bar, her back facing the entrance. Xiao Xia still stuck to them. Everyone in the bar noticed she was doing it on purpose.

“Miss Yue, what is the meaning of this?” Fu Xue lost her patience.

Everyone in the bar knew that the only person who could remain by the handsome owner’s side was this unobtrusive lawyer Yue Xiao Xia. But in their minds, since Ruan Zhan hadn’t made a move on this woman who was always with him, it meant he wasn’t interested. That meant he would never make a move. Under such circumstances, she still continued to foolishly cling to him. That was truly unwise. However, she was currently trying to get with this stylish and wealthy man. Someone like Yue Xiao Xia being present was still a stumbling block.

“I’m listening in on your conversation. Can I not?” Xiao Xia’s tone was clearly provocative.

“It’s very rude to eavesdrop!”

“I’m not eavesdropping. I’m openly listening in.”

“You’re really weird. What kind of person follows people around, listening to their private conversations?”

“This is a public space. Go somewhere else if you want a private conversation.”Xiao Xia argued unreasonably, not giving an inch.

Both sides truly became a little angry after bickering back and forth, neither willing to give in. Luckily they were still aware of their surroundings and didn’t raise their voices.

Bao Da Tong watched from the side and wanted to go put out the fire, but was stopped by Wan Li.

“Jealousy can be beneficial.”He smiled knowingly, though his smile contained a hint of bitterness. “Their relationship has hit a dead end, and needs some external stimulation.”

Bao Da Tong naturally understood who he meant by “they”. He couldn’t help but pity the opinionated Fu Xue. In the battle of love between Ruan Zhan and Xiao Xia, there were multiple casualties!

He had also sensed Ruan Zhan had changed somewhat after returning from Jingshi Town. He figured it definitely had something to do with Uncle Ruan. On the surface, Ruan Zhan had gone off to take revenge on the yakshas who had injured him. Yet the truth was he definitely went because they had revealed information about Uncle Ruan. It seemed Ruan Zhan had encountered a thorny problem. He really wanted to help him. However, his father had told him prior to his departure that he had to help Ruan Zhan, but without forcing him. Everything had to proceed according to his will. Now, Ruan Zhan’s will was clear. He didn’t wish to mention his father’s matter.

“Miss Fu deserves her bad luck. To think she’d get into an argument with a lawyer.”He sighed softly. “Even if Xiao Xia isn’t quite qualified, she has never lost an argument before.”

Wan Li shook his head helplessly and remained silent. He had observed Ruan Zhan for a while, and knew that despite not following Xiao Xia with his eyes, his heart had been fixated on her. Ruan Zhan had constantly been this way recently. He kept far away from Xiao Xia, but still remained within sight of her. Just like now, when he seemed to be speaking with Fu Xue, but his eyes kept inadvertently glancing at Xiao Xia’s arm.

Xiao Xia, that lass, had been corrupted. She actually knew to use her minor injury to torment that man whose whole heart was fixated on her. Ruan Zhan seemed to be in extreme distress. At some point, he was going to burst.

Right as that thought crossed his mind, he saw Ruan Zhan who had been helplessly observing suddenly grab Xiao Xia’s hand and practically drag her upstairs. Left behind was the pitiful Fu Xue, who stood there awkwardly.

“I’m going to provide some humanitarian aid.”Bao Da Tong said and went over to Fu Xue.

Wan Li didn’t fight over the gentleman role with him. He drank his glass of rather strong alcohol by himself, suppressing the bitterness in his heart as he pondered how to help the awkward couple.

There weren’t many who were able to find true love in their lives. Many merely like each other, or even got together due to circumstances being suitable. They got married and kept each other company for a lifetime. How many were able to deeply love someone, and be deeply loved in return? That was a heavenly gift. Even if that love turned to ashes, it was worth it. Even if the bone-deep love became bone-deep pain, it was a blessing.

Ruan Zhan failed to understand this. Perhaps he loved Xiao Xia too much, to the extent he was able to abandon his own happiness. However terrifying the impending death Ruan Zhan had to face, Wan Li would help Xiao Xia as long as she was willing.

He subconsciously glanced towards the ceiling. On the second floor, Ruan Zhan was applying rubbing alcohol onto Xiao Xia’s scrape.

Watching his lowered head as he held her wrist carefully with one hand, the other gently rubbing in the alcohol with his middle finger, Xiao Xia’s heart palpitated. It turns out he was actually so intoxicating when he was gentle. The usually lonely and firm features now appeared soft, his thick brows casting a layer of shadows over his eyes, making Xiao Xia involuntarily want to reach out and stroke them. The thought had just formed when her hand followed her will, alighting upon Ruan Zhan’s face.

Yet her warm hand had just touched that cold face when Ruan Zhan reacted as if electrocuted, immediately drawing back. Xiao Xia was first startled, before feeling both awkward and upset.

“I’m not poisonous.”

“I’m sorry.”

“But why do you reject me?”

“Xiao Xia, things..aren’t what you think. I’m just…not used to being in contact with others.”Ruan Zhan struggled to explain. “I’m sorry if that hurt you. But I have to go downstairs now, there’s still work to do.”

He turned to leave after speaking, as if fleeing. However, Xiao Xia leapt over emotionally, hugging him from behind.

“I love you.”She said urgently. She didn’t know whether it was due to having argued with Fu Xue, or whether she was still tipsy. Regardless, she spoke the words in her heart. “I want you to be my boyfriend!”Since she had figured out he loved her, there wasn’t anything to fear. Besides, it was just three words. They weren’t hard to say.

Ruan Zhan turned rigid.

Of course he knew she loved him, but she had kept that love in her heart, allowing him to shirk it. But now she had said it out loud! What should he do in the face of her first confession? He really wanted to respond, but could only refuse. The problem was how to do so without hurting her!

“Silly lass, did you watch too many dramas? Stop messing around, there are still customers downstairs.”He tried to muddle through.

“No, since the words have been spoken, we should clear the air today.”Xiao Xia said stubbornly. “Tell me why you can’t accept me. If there are some difficulties, we can face them together. Like I said, I’m not your burden, but your companion. Tell me, what’s troubling you?!”

Did she know? Ruan Zhan was nervous for a moment, but immediately understood Xiao Xia couldn’t have known about such complicated matters. He didn’t know what to say, feeling Xiao Xia’s soft body pressed against his back. He almost broke down.

He tried to pry her arms away but happened to touch her injury. Her cry of pain caused him to hurriedly let go.

“Xiao Xia, please stop messing around, ok? You’re making things very awkward for me like this!”

“I’m confessing my feelings to you, can’t you tell?” Ruan Zhan’s continued evasion caused Xiao Xia to get angry, but she could only hug him tightly. Suddenly she felt her fingers grow numb and involuntarily let go.

“You dare use magic on me!”Xiao Xia glared incredulously. “I haven’t settled things with you yet for wiping away my memories last time. Now you’re electrocuting me with magic!”

“It was just a bit, it won’t hurt.”Ruan Zhan explained, looking a little at a loss. “Don’t cling onto me anymore. We aren’t a good match. There are many good men out there. You have Wan Li and Bao Da Tong right in front of you. Don’t cling onto me, it’ll be easier for everyone. Unless you’re trying to force me to leave. That way, we can’t even remain friends.”

After speaking, he hurried down the stairs while Xiao Xia remained frozen. After returning to the bar, he ignored Wan Li and Bao Da Tong’s curious gazes. He felt drained of all his strength. Even standing was tiring, and he had to lean against the bar.

“I forgot to tell you something earlier.”Fu Xue hadn’t left yet. Seeing Ruan Zhan return silently, she mistook his pained expression as annoyance and assumed he just had an argument with Yue Xiao Xia. She continued her “great undertaking” of picking up the guy. “It’s my birthday this Saturday and my friends organized a party. Do I have the privilege of inviting you as my date?”

Ruan Zhan grunted distractedly. Fu Xue assumed he was agreeing and was extremely pleased. She hurriedly told him the time and place. At that moment, Xiao Xia came downstairs and happened to hear their conversation.

“Not inviting me?”

“You ‘overheard’ again?” Fu Xue raised her pretty chin. “Since we ran into each other, you might as well come. However, you need a date.”

“I’ll bring him.”Xiao Xia pointed at Wan Li.

Ruan Zhan had planned on turning down the invite, but thinking he should make Xiao Xia give up he had silently acquiesced.

Meanwhile, Xiao Xia thought: I confessed to you properly but you refuse to give in. You’re forcing me to act “shamelessly”. So be it!

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